Thursday 18 June 2020

Atlanta police officers not answering some 911 calls after former cop charged with murder, sources say

The now-fired Atlanta Police officer who faces a felony murder charge for fatally shooting Rayshard Brooks last week kicked the 27-year-old man after he fell to the ground, Fulton County’s district attorney said Wednesday.
DA Paul Howard announced 11 charges against Garrett Rolfe, who five days ago fired three shots at Brooks, two of which hit Brooks in the back and another that hit a car with three people inside.
After Rolfe shot Brooks, he exclaimed, “I got him,” kicked Brooks as he struggled for his life, and failed to give timely first aid, Howard said.
Asked by a reporter about new details revealed by the district attorney, Tomika Miller, Brooks’ widow, began to cry and said, “I was very hurt. … I felt everything that he felt just by hearing what he went through. And it hurt. It hurt really bad.”
A law firm representing Rolfe said he reacted after he thought he “heard a gunshot and saw a flash in front of him.”
“Fearing for his safety, and the safety of the civilians around him, Officer Rolfe dropped his taser and fired his service weapon at the only portion of Mr. Brooks that presented to him — Mr. Brooks’ back,” a statement released by the LoRusso Law Firm says.
Attorneys for Rolfe said their client immediately called for emergency medical services and began rendering aid to Brooks.
Devin Brosnan, the other officer at the shooting, faces an aggravated assault charge for standing on Brooks in the parking lot.
The killing Friday night came amid nationwide protests calling for an end to racism and police violence against black people. Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields stepped down from her position in the wake of the killing.
Another demonstration was taking place Wednesday at the Wendy’s where Brooks was shot, with dozens of protesters gathered and some blocking the road.
Hours after the district attorney’s announcement, Atlanta police officers were not responding to calls in three of the city’s six zones, multiple sources within Atlanta Police Department told CNN’s Ryan Young.
The department denied the reports of officers walking off the job, saying there was a high number of call-outs on the incoming shift.
“We have enough resources to maintain operations & remain able to respond to incidents,” Atlanta police tweeted.

Attorney says Brosnan isn’t a state’s witness

The demeanor after the shooting “did not reflect any fear or danger of Mr. Brooks, but reflected other kinds of emotions,” Howard said.
Brosnan has agreed to be a state’s witness, Howard said — a statement disputed by the officer’s attorneys.
“To be clear, there is no agreement that our client is going to testify at any hearing,” lawyer Amanda Clark Palmer told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. There’s no need for a plea deal, she said. “In my view, he doesn’t need a deal. He shouldn’t have been charged with a crime in the first place. … He is not a state’s witness. He is a witness.”
She said her client shouldn’t have been charged with aggravated assault because “an assault puts somebody in fear of immediately receiving a violent bodily injury. That wasn’t Devin’s intent.”
Attorney Don Samuel said Brosnan wasn’t sure who was shooting and the officer put his foot on Brooks’ arm for less than 10 seconds to make sure he couldn’t get access to a weapon.
Samuel said the district attorney’s timeline is wrong and that the officers were giving aid soon after they checked Brooks for where he had been hit.
Arrest warrants have been issued for Rolfe and Brosnan and they were asked to surrender by Thursday evening. With the felony murder charge, Rolfe could face the death penalty if convicted.
Miller said she hopes everything in the case falls into place like it should.
“I’m really hurt. Father’s Day is coming up and all I can do is just think about what if my husband were still here,” she said in a brief statement to reporters.
The incident began when police responded to a report of a man sleeping in his car in the fast-food restaurant’s drive-thru lane. After chatting calmly with the officers and failing a Breathalyzer test, Brooks resisted when officers moved to handcuff him for suspected drunken driving.
Video footage shows the three fighting on the ground before Brooks grabs an officer’s Taser and begins to run away. As an officer chases him, Brooks points the Taser over his shoulder at Rolfe, who then shoots him multiple times, the surveillance video shows. Brooks died at a hospital.
The 11 charges Rolfe faces are felony murder, five counts of aggravated assault, four counts of violation of oath of office and one count of criminal damage to property.
Brosnan also faces two counts of violation of oath of office.

Legally justified or criminal?

Brooks’ family members, who are preparing for the 27-year-old father’s funeral, said the two officers should have continued to pursue him as he ran away instead of shooting him. He leaves behind three daughters, who are 1, 2 and 8, and a 13-year-old stepson.
But some law enforcement leaders said the shooting was justified and protected by Georgia law — which allows a person to use deadly force “only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or herself or a third person.”
Steven Gaynor, the president of the Cobb County Fraternal Order of Police, defended the shooting by saying Brooks posed a threat and had assaulted the officers as he was getting arrested.
“(Georgia law) specifically gives (the officer) the right based on the aggravated assaults and the threat (Brooks) poses to the public and to the officers there,” Gaynor said. “It specifically gives them by law the right to shoot him. (Brooks) chose to make those actions. He chose to do what he did.”
However, some policing experts have said the incident did not have to escalate to a fatal shooting.
CNN law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey said the officers knew Brooks didn’t have a weapon — they patted him down earlier in their encounter — and could have continued to chase him and ask for backup.
“You’ve got the car. You’ve asked for his driver’s license. You know who he is. So even if you don’t get him right now, you can get him later,” Ramsey said.
Part of the debate relies on the dangerousness of the Taser he took from one of the officers. The Taser is designed to be less lethal than a firearm, but it can be fatal in some circumstances.
Just two weeks ago, for example, Howard charged several Atlanta Police officers with aggravated assault after they allegedly used a Taser — referred to in the arrest warrant as “a deadly weapon” — on two college students.
“The training we have had for over 20 years tells us if they take your baton or your Taser, it now becomes one step more that you have to use deadly force,” Gaynor said. “Because those can be used against you to incapacitate you and then take your weapon.”

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